On Mothers’ Day, Dad drove us out to a nursery on the outskirts of Sydney, surrounded by rose bushes. He had booked lunch at the small café there. Once Dad parked the car, we piled out, into the chilly autumn air. I made my way across, then realised that I hadn’t even checked for cars. We entered the café through a white-painted doorway, rimmed with leaves. A staff member showed us to the table where the rest of the family were already sitting.
“Yes, we would like to order drinks to start off with,” Dad requested. “I’ll have a lemon lime and bitters, please.”
“And I’ll have an apple juice, thanks,” I chimed in, the waitress scribbling down both of our orders.
“How has uni been, Nina?” Aunty June enquired.
“Yeah, alright,” I answered. “I’m pretty close to the end of the semester. It’s been, I don’t know, different this year.”
Maybe I just wasn’t fighting for my life so much, adjusting to not being able to breathe. Our plates of lunch arrived at the table. I thanked the waitress as she placed the food down in front of me. Before starting to eat, I said grace, just a little prayer in my head to ground me, to remind me to be grateful. The conversation died down while we ate. My meal went down a little too quickly, so I finished off my apple juice to wash it down.
“Well, we best make tracks.”
At Mum’s instigation, we said goodbye to the rest of the family. I knew she must have been tired, not just tired of the celebration, with Mitchell missing. I squeezed Aunty June a little tighter. Out in the carpark, we went our separate ways with a wave. On the drive home, I did feel a little sleepy. I could have blamed it on the time of year and the dipping temperatures. Once we returned, Dad pulled the car back in and onto the lawn, where he parked and turned off the ignition. We emerged from the doors on either side. Mum trudged into the house for sleep, but I had another idea. Taking Lucky for a walk, my feet pounded the footpaths, while she ran ahead of me excitedly, pulling the lead taut. Eventually, I returned home, feeling a little puffed, but untangled Lucky from her harness. Heading into my bedroom, I sat down at my desk to get some study done, but instead I found myself staring out the window. I listened to the background noise of the suburbs. After eating a small dinner, provided by Mum, my energy was lacking. Lying down in bed, it didn’t take long for me to fall asleep.
The younger sister of missing Sydney man Mitchell del Reyan, Nina del Reyan lives on Dharug land in western Sydney. She is in her second year of her teaching degree at Macquarie University. Nina loves her boyfriend Geoff, her family and friends and is deeply committed to finding answers and justice for the families of missing people.
Abbey Sim is the founder of Huldah Media. She is a theology student who lives on the lands of the Dharug people in Sydney, Australia. A candidate for Honours in Communications at the University of Technology Sydney, Abbey explores themes of hope, love and longing through her storytelling. She is the author of 'Shadow' and 'From the Wild'.